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Winchester residents protest plans to expand secondary school
11:00am Friday 1st February 2013 in Winchester
PROTESTERS came out in force this week against plans to expand a city secondary school.
Residents in Cheriton Road and Links Road, in Fulflood, gathered on Tuesday to vent their concerns over the county council’s plan to build a 420-place primary school, and 55-place nursery at The Westgate School.
The council wants to expand the school — also in Cheriton Road — to ease pressure on school places in the city, and will decide a planning application in March.
But residents say they are worried about a variety of issues including the environment, road safety, and the impact on the character of the area.
Jo D’Andrea, 48, a company director of Links Road, said: “There’s no pavement here and we cannot have yellow lines because Links Road is unadopted.
“We have been affected for years by the parking at Western Primary School, and this road gets completely full at picking-up time. There’s nowhere for these extra vehicles to go.
“This is not expanding the school as much as putting another school in where we already have The Westgate and Western.
“The road is dangerous enough as it is, and we have tried to get something done before to calm the traffic, so to add to it is ridiculous.”
Tim Peshall, 58, of nearby Walnut Grove, added: “Rotherly Nursery brings in a huge amount of vehicles already, and I expect that will triple when this extension is built.”
Chris Blackman, 62, of Cheriton Road, said the development would damage the wildlife and environment in Fulflood.
He said: “The character of the Fulflood area needs to be preserved and we have a design statement produced in 2007/2008 that is all about preserving our trees, flora and fauna because it’s a desirable area to live. But it doesn’t seem to be considered here.
“This is a Winchester-wide issue because if the proposal goes ahead, then catchment areas of all Winchester schools will be affected which will increase journey times, inevitably car journeys. It will mean more pollution across the city.”
Ward councillor Robert Hutchison said the extra school places should have been spread around the city, rather than concentrated at The Westgate.
He said: “I just think the county council has been very complacent when thinking about all the traffic and congestion.
“With Western, The Westgate and the new school we will have 2,000 staff and pupils together effectively on one campus.
“The council has got to look at safety issues in Cheriton Road and the existing transport statement in the application is inadequate.”
Cllr Roy Perry, the county council’s executive member for children’s services, said the school would stagger start and end times for pupils in both schools to make it easier for parents to drop-off and pick up, and that a sustainable travel plan had been drawn up.
Cllr Perry added: “The school will keep the travel plan under review once the primary school is opened so that it can be further developed if necessary.
“The car park planned will be gated and controlled for use only by staff predominantly at the start and end of the school day, and for use by the Badminton centre out of school hours.
“Other options were considered but this one is the most suitable as it keeps pedestrian and vehicle access to this part of the site separate.”